Israel Rescues Four Hostages in Largest Operation Since Gaza War Began
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Almog Meir Jan, an Israeli hostage rescued from the central Gaza Strip, reacts in Ramat Gan, Israel, on June 8, 2024.

By The Smartencyclopedia Staff Writer with Agencies 

JERUSALEM — In a daring daytime operation, Israel rescued four hostages kidnapped during a Hamas-led attack on October 7. The Israeli army announced on Saturday that Noa Argamani, 25; Almog Meir Jan, 21; Andrey Kozlov, 27; and Shlomi Ziv, 40, were freed in the Nuseirat region of Gaza. This marks the largest single rescue of hostages since the onset of the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip.

The operation took place in two separate locations within Nuseirat, a complex and heavily populated area, underscoring the challenging nature of the mission. This brings the total number of rescued captives to seven since the war erupted.

The conflict began after Hamas kidnapped approximately 250 individuals during its attack on southern Israel on October 7, an event that escalated into a full-scale war. While a temporary cease-fire in November saw the release of around half of the hostages, more than 130 remain captive. Among these, it is believed that about a quarter have perished, intensifying the debate within Israel over the best strategies to secure the remaining hostages’ release.

The rescue operation comes amid increasing international calls for Israel to mitigate civilian casualties in Gaza. The war, now in its eighth month, has resulted in significant loss of life, with Gaza’s Health Ministry reporting at least 36,000 Palestinian deaths, though these figures do not differentiate between combatants and civilians.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to return to the Middle East next week to revitalize the stalled cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under mounting pressure domestically to end the hostilities in Gaza. Many Israelis are urging him to accept a deal proposed last month by U.S. President Joe Biden. However, Netanyahu faces opposition from his far-right allies, who have threatened to dismantle his government should he pursue the proposed agreement.

Among the hostages rescued on Saturday, Noa Argamani has been a particularly well-known figure. She was abducted from a music festival, with a harrowing video of her kidnapping widely circulated. The footage showed her being taken away on a motorcycle, screaming for her life. Her mother, Liora, who has stage four brain cancer, released a poignant video in April pleading to see her daughter again.

The dramatic rescue operation highlights both the ongoing peril faced by hostages in Gaza and the relentless efforts by Israeli forces to secure their freedom amid a backdrop of international and domestic pressure.

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